Clause 1 - Consultation with Board

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 25th February 2003.

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Photo of Paul Goodman Paul Goodman Conservative, Wycombe 10:00 am, 25th February 2003

I must start by saying that it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Benton.

A moment ago, the right hon. Member for Upper Bann, in reference to new subsection (2) in clause 1(1), said that the change was purely semantic, and I am sure that he is right. Nevertheless, I have one question for the Minister so that her response can be helpful. New subsection (2) says:

''the Secretary of State shall consult the Board with a view to obtaining its agreement to the proposed objectives or revision.''

As the right hon. Gentleman said, it is impossible to imagine the Secretary of State consulting the board with any other view. However, I put a case to the

Minister. It is surely possible that a minority of members of the board, after being consulted by the Secretary of State about a proposed objective or revision, could argue that the Secretary of State's consultation was not entirely serious and that he had not wanted to obtain the board's agreement to objectives or revisions about which the Government felt strongly. Has the Minister taken legal advice on that? We know that all sorts of curious legal possibilities arise during the passage of legislation, and I wonder whether the Minister has given any thought to that.